Week of October 1, 2021

Hehehe

Choosing To Stick To Sports 

Last week, over 500 women athletes filed a brief to the Supreme Court in support of reproductive rights being challenged in a pending case. While I know where I stand on the issue, Kurt Streeter’s story brought to light a fresh perspective to a debate that’s been raging for decades: that of the female athlete.  

Per Streeter: 

The brief’s primary claim? If women do not have the option of abortion, their lives could be disrupted and they will not thrive in sports at levels we’ve grown accustomed to — levels witnessed recently at the Tokyo Olympics, in the W.N.B.A. playoffs and the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York. Having the ability to say when or whether to become mothers directly connects to a key ingredient that has fueled the broad success of women in high-level sports: the ability to control, nurture and push the body to its limits, without breaks of months or years, and without the sometimes permanent physical changes that pregnancy can cause.

Streeter then goes on to share the story of Crissy Perham. Perham captained the U.S. Swim Team at the 1992 Olympics, winning 2 gold medals. That incredible achievement almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if she had gone through with an unwanted pregnancy two years prior. But to Perham, the decision to not have a baby at 19 years old impacted much more than her olympic successes. 

Looking back now, with the cushion of time, Perham cannot imagine the good parts of her life happening as they have if she’d had a baby at 19. Not just her career in the pool but also her successful second marriage, her jobs coaching high school swimmers and being the mother to two sons who are now in their 20s.

Life as she knows it, the life she loves, is a product of that decision, she told me. “That’s not uncommon,” she said, adding that many athletes have similar stories.

A thought-provoking read on an aspect of the issue I hadn’t considered. – PAL 

Source: Why Scores of Female Athletes Are Speaking Out on Abortion Rights,” Kurt Streeter, The New York Times (09/27/21)


A’s Fans Deserve Better

The Chronicle’s Ann Killion wrote this week about how the Oakland A’s seem to be intentionally driving off their fan base. The last year or two has been especially difficult for A’s fans, as the team openly flirts with following the Raiders to Las Vegas. But this week was a real slap in the face – when the A’s sent season ticket holders their renewal notices and tickets prices spikes – in some cases doubling from their previous price. 

Ann does a great job of laying out the A’s steps to driving off the fanbase, which in my opinion was ripped right out of the Maloof Brothers’ handbook -get bad, whine about attendance, jack prices, whine about worse attendance, get worse, jack prices, whine about no attendance…try to move. Except that the A’s have turned things up a notch from what those Kings did:

1. Fail to put money back into the team or re-sign homegrown stars, but instead pocket money received from revenue sharing over the years, until that pot dries up.

2. Have a billionaire owner who is completely unaccountable or present over the course of his 16-year ownership.

3. Denigrate their home stadium as a worthless, horrible place, implying that anyone who shows up there is a moron.

4. Try your best, for many, many years, to escape Oakland, to go to San Jose or Fremont.

5. When those plans fail, reverse course and claim to be “rooted in Oakland.”

6. Prematurely announce a stadium location after pursuing it for months that turns out — surprise! — to actually not be a viable location. (Hello and goodbye, Laney College.)

7. Insist that another problematic stadium site is the only option. You’re supposed to now trust the team decision-makers.

8. Exhibit a complete and total lack of imagination about the existing 155-acre site that comes complete with ideal transportation solutions.

9. Introduce a plan that is one of the biggest, most ambitious real estate projects in Oakland history and insist that it must be pushed through by a city council immediately.

10. When the city council suggests it needs to study an alternate financing plan, pout and claim to be out of options.

11. Embark on a “parallel path” stadium search in Southern Nevada, visiting constantly, being wined and dined by Nevada officials and scouting locations in 106-degree garden spots like Henderson.

And finally, this week’s development:

12. Release season-ticket prices for the coming season at almost double the current cost, alienating the most loyal remaining fans.

The A’s fans Ann talked to are understandably pissed. I’m not an A’s fan. However, I love going to A’s games – especially day games. It’s a great experience. Take BART, sit in the sun, and watch some a (usually good) baseball team in (usually) bad uniforms from up close and cheap. If the A’s leave for Las Vegas, I’ll be a bit sad for selfish reasons – Bay Area baseball is better with the A’s here. But I’ll be really sad for A’s fans – a loyal and passionate group who has stuck with that team when most fan bases would have thrown up their hands and said, “None more!” 

Caval and the A’s suck and I hope someone rescues the A’s from that ownership group like someone rescued the Kings from the Maloofs. I mean, the new ownership is not much better than the Maloofs, but they built a new arena and aren’t threatening to leave so that helps. It wasn’t a high bar. -TOB

Source: How to Lose a Fan Base in 12 steps: A’s Ticket-Price Hike Might be Last Straw,” Ann Killion, SF Chronicle (09/25/2021)

PAL: Obviously so sick of how the A’s have treated Oakland and its fans, but you know what stuck out to me after reading this, the umpteeth story about ownership being assholes? Why is Vegas so pumped to get into bed with the A’s? The ownership sucks here, and they are going to suck in Vegas, too. A stadium isn’t going to change this organization’s approach to the game. Eventually, this ownership will treat whatever fanbase they have like crap, because they are cheap and don’t care about holding up their end of the deal in the team/fan relationship. They want to make a profit by spending as little as possible, and I don’t see that changing in the long run. You can have the A’s with this ownership, Vegas. Good luck.


The Story That Never Was

This is a fun read. This is a story about a Kayln Kahler trying, and failing to confirm a rumor and turn it into a story. The nature of sportswriting, partly, is getting a great bit of info and never being able to use it. 

So many good rumors die on the vine, only feeling some weak rays of sunshine on their crispy brown leaves when I whisper them to friends at a bar, or share with my editors.

The rumor: A future hall of famer offered to pay teammates to get vaccinated…and it seemed to have worked. 

One agent told me he’d heard from another agent at his agency that a certain veteran MLB player and possible future Hall of Famer paid some of his teammates to get the vaccine. (He gave me a name; because I haven’t been able to run down the story satisfactorily, I’m not going to use it here. Sorry.) 

“He basically offered to give other players money if they went out and got vaccinated so they could get over the hump,” the agent said. “And I think it worked. I think there were guys who didn’t [want it] who said, ‘well if you’re going to pay me then I will,’ and it got them over it.”

Hmm. Vaccine bribery?! Now that was a choice tidbit. A great story if I could pin it down. This agent didn’t even feel comfortable telling me who had told him this, but I had a general idea of where it came from, since this agency only has a small number of players on that team.

So Kahler just needs to confirm the rumor. She’s an NFL writer most of the time, so she had to familiarize herself with how tracking leads worked in a different sport. Challenge one: figure out the agent for every player on the team in question. The NFL shares a database of players and agents, MLB does not. Kahler had to call into the MLBPA office to ask about specific players, and she was limited to 3 requests per day (the office admin told her that’s the way it’s always been). She waits in (the wrong) Ritz Carlton lobby, trying to catch to and from the field. She goes to the minor league park to talk to players that have shuffled between the big leagues and minor leagues. She goes to visiting stadiums and deals with PR offices and is given the press credential run-around. All the while, she is tantalizingly close to nailing this rumor down (many knowing glances and smiles from players). 

In the end, she couldn’t get the story nailed, but reading about the process was a fantastic consolation prize. – PAL 

Source:My White Whale Is The Story Of An MLB Veteran Paying His Teammates To Get VaccinatedKayln Kahler, Defector (09/29/21)


A Sports Cliche Quiz

There’s no link, but in Defector’s newsletter they posed the following challenge:

Can You Tell Which Of These Cliche Quotes From New York Rangers Camp Are Real, And Which Ones I Made Up?

It was fun, so I thought I’d share it here.

  1. “He’s very selfless in that he doesn’t think less of himself, he just thinks of himself, less.”
  2. “We’re going to have to put some pucks deep and go to work.”
  3. “We’re just looking to, you know, bang some bodies, play our kind of hockey.”
  4. “I just want to do my part for the team.”
  5. “They say happiness isn’t a destination, it’s a journey. And it’s the same thing in the NHL.”
  6. “You know what those kids want? They just want to play.”
  7. “It is what it is, and at the end of the day, we just have to focus on what we can control.”
  8. “To win at the end, you don’t only have skill, you got to work hard and do all these little details.”
  9. “He just skates hard, gives 110 percent every time he’s out there, and takes it one shift at a time.”
  10. “They don’t hand out the Stanley Cup until you get to the end of the road, so we just have to play our ‘A’ game and do the little things that will get us there.”

Take the quiz and then find the answers here. For the record, I got 7/10 correct (I got 3, 6, 10 wrong) -TOB

PAL: I haven’t looked at the answers:

  1. Rangers Camp
  2. Made up 
  3. Camp
  4. Camp
  5. Made up 
  6. Camp
  7. Made up
  8. Camp
  9. Made up
  10. Camp

How’d I do? Same as TOB – 7/10!

  1. Rangers Camp
  2. Made up 
  3. Camp
  4. Camp
  5. Made up 
  6. Camp
  7. Made up
  8. Camp
  9. Made up
  10. Camp

Video of the Week

PAL: LOL aside, how’s that not a balk?

Song of the Week

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Everyone’s gotta be the hero with the pickle jar.

Larry David